Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014 - Ronald Pike

I do not have too many facts about Ronald Pike's life, but here are some photos and a newspaper cutting about his tragic death.

Ronald Pike and his mother Ellen

After his father was killed in WW1 Ronald was raised by his mother Ellen. Ellen married a second time, but at the moment I do not know when. Nor do I know how long Ellen and Ronald lived in Chitterne at 79 Bidden Lane.

Ron Pike on horseback
Later in life Ron married Joan, worked at Battlesbury Barracks and lived in Pound Street, Warminster. He died at the barracks aged 58 in 1975 in unfortunate circumstances when a boiler in the boiler house blew up. See the newspaper article on the right. He is buried in Sutton Veny churchyard and again I don't know why he was buried there when he lived in Warminster.

Friday 21st March 2014 - Stonehenge Experience


All right I know this isn't about Ronald Pike but yesterday we took part in a Community Open Day visit to Stonehenge for residents of Wiltshire and I want to share it with you while it is fresh in my memory.

Approaching the visitor centre from the car park

I like the architecture of the Visitor Centre roof and supports very much but until yesterday I was disappointed with what I considered was a grey breeze-block building beneath the roof. On closer inspection it wasn't built of breeze-blocks but of much more attractive grey-weathered lengths of wood. It's a shame this doesn't come across as you pass by on the A360, or maybe it does if you've better eyesight than me.

The visitor centre from the rear

The entrance to the exhibition centre

Both the exhibition centre and the contents are stunning. You first walk through a circular area as if you are surrounded by the stones. The walls of this room are presumably huge screens. I'm not technically knowledgeable enough to know exactly how it works, but the scene constantly changes to give the impression of Stonehenge being built through the ages and seasons. Wonderful, and a lot less windy than it was yesterday at the real stones. After this you pass either to the main exhibition or the temporary exhibition. The main exhibition is brilliant. Lots of Stonhenge artifacts on loan from the museums at Devizes and Salisbury are very clearly displayed and annotated. I wanted lots more time to read everything. Other stands show short films of how things were made with voice over and sign language for the hard of hearing. The temporary exhibition they plan to change every 6 months. At the moment writings about Stonehenge from the earliest of times are on display until September. It was good to see how accessible everything, except maybe some of the exterior exhibitions, are to people in wheelchairs.

The Heel Stone and old road looking west towards Shrewton

We took the bus to the stones and took the land-train back. The bus is much the quicker of the two. The land-train ride is more bumpy especially when it turns around at the stones end because the offside wheels of the landrover and the towed carriages dropped off the edge of the smooth turning space and onto the gravel at that point.

The old road looking east towards Amesbury with the edge of the land-train turning circle in the foreground

I was interested to see just how the old A344 road looked now that it has been raised to the same height as the area around the stones and grassed over. There was as yet no sign of the permissive cycle path that is due to be installed. I don't quite understand how they will reconcile the plan to return the area to its natural state amid the surrounding landscape and yet charge for admission to the stones. Surely those people using the permissive foot/cycle path coming from the Amesbury direction will be able to reach the stones without paying.

Monday 17th March 2014 - More on Percy Pike

Since last week I have been in touch with DB, a relative of Percy Pike's wife Ellen Churchill, and I am very grateful to him for sharing this extra information and these marvellous photos.

Percy Pike and Ellen Churchill Wedding

Also since last week I have checked whether Percy is commemorated on either of the Codford memorials and I was wrong! His name is not recorded there, but he was listed as a man of Codford in the records at the Regiment Museum in Salisbury. I have altered last week's blog to that effect.

Figheldean War Memorial

DB tells me that Percy Pike is commemorated on the Figheldean War Memorial. The Pikes were a large Figheldean family and Percy's father and grandfather were born there.

Chambrecy British Cemetery

According to Romy Wyeth's book, "Warriors for the Working Day", Percy was with the 2011 Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. On 20 September 1917 the Wiltshire Yeomanry amalgamated with the Wiltshire Regiment to become the 6th Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry Battalion. He was killed on the 31st May 1918 and is buried at Chambrecy British Cemetery at Marne, France.

Lastly, a photo of Ellen and Percy's little son Ronald and his mother standing outside 79 Bidden Lane confirms this cottage as their address in Chitterne.

Ellen (Churchill) Pike and her son Ronald

More on what happened to Ronald Pike in my next blog.

Tuesday 11th March 2014 - World War 1 Anniversary

There are plans afoot in the village to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the first world war. I have recently reviewed my notes on those village men who died in the war as mentioned in my blog of 10th December 2010, and on one extra man named Percy Pike who should be on the Chitterne War Memorial but is not there.

The names of the men of Chitterne who died in WW1, except Percy Pike, on the village memorial

Percy Pike's name is listed amongst the men of Codford who died because of a mistake with his address. The correct postal address for Chitterne at the time was: Chitterne, Codford, Wiltshire, and it stayed that way until 1933 when our address was changed to Chitterne, Warminster, Wiltshire. Percy Pike's address on his military records would have been written as Chitterne, Codford, Wiltshire as would most other Chitterne servicemen's addresses. In most cases this posed no problem, but in Percy Pike's case in meant he was listed of Codford, not of Chitterne. This fact came to light due to World War 1 research done by RW in Codford for her book Warriors for the Working Day.

So what do we know about Percy Pike? He was not born in Chitterne, but in Woodborough, Wiltshire in 1891, and his parents were Thomas Pike from Figheldean and Harriet Mabbett from Tilshead. A branch of the Mabbett family also lived in Chitterne. Percy married Ellen Churchill, his cousin, in 1916 and set up home in the village at 79 Bidden Lane, two doors away from Ellen's parents at number 77. Thanks to research by my friends 'Holmes & Watson' we know that Ellen's mother and Percy's mother were sisters. Percy and Ellen had one son called Ronald Percy born 1917, who was only 14 months old when his father was killed on 31st May 1918. Ellen remarried and died in Warminster in 1975.

Why am I not surprised that we have Pikes in the village today? They may not be related to Percy Pike, but still the old names return. It happens so regularly. In fact in the course of discovering the relationship between Percy and Ellen, Holmes & Watson also discovered that their mutual maternal grandfather, one William Mabbett, was married to a Jane Ingram, which you may remember is my family name!

I have made changes to this blog on Monday 17th March 2014 following information received and further research. Percy Pike is not commemorated on the Codford War Memorial as I first thought. SR

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